Wednesday, December 12, 2012

How to Have a Holiday Like a Hallmark Card

I'm surrounded by parents at Christmas Carol. And not just because the audience is full of kids and families, but my cast and crew are loaded with parents. One consistent refrain I hear from parents at this time of year is "I just HAD to buy it". Always referencing an extra gift for their favorite little one(s). Who can blame them? We love shopping, we love our children, combine the two and impulse purchases will abound.

One of my best friends composes a diligent list of things for her children and every year when we do the final tally of what her children get she inevitably has a handful of unplanned items.

Maybe it's because I have no children, but I find I do not have this problem. I don't have impulse purchases for Andy or Gus. What I have are impulse purchases for myself.

How many fancy coffees have I bought in the last week? Let's just say the Starbucks card Auto-Reload receipt is a regular occurrence in my inbox right now.

Why does this happen? Why do we all succumb to impulse purchases at this time of year in particular?

It's because our inhibitions are low and our stress is high. I don't know about you, but work is crazy right now and not just because we've entered 12+ shows a week territory, but my other projects are amping up and people have an inability to just chill. The holidays are full of images of sitting by the fire in a cozy sweater sipping hot chocolate and admiring our brood while they play with old fashioned blocks.

Who has that reality? No one. And the pressure feels awful high to HAVE FUN during the holidays.

For us it's more like wake up, get out the door, work like crazy, meet a million people, come home, watch a Glee and go to bed. I'm grateful Andy and I sync up once during the day for a mid-day download otherwise we'd never have the energy to get all of our awesome daily occurrences out to each other.

So if there's one thing I can teach you about December, it's not just to budget for your present shopping and your holiday party throwing, it's to allow yourself a few impulse purchases. As long as they aren't cars, houses, boats, major stereo systems, etc, you'll be fine. Check in with yourself every few days about how you're feeling about your spending and if it's starting to worry you ask yourself what you really need. Is it just a half hour alone? Is it for someone else to clean the house or cook a meal?

Be sure to give to yourself in the holiday season as well as to others. This will prevent you from turning into Medusa with too much wine on Christmas Day and you will have your very own Peanuts/Williams Sonoma Christmas. Though maybe with an iPad instead of blocks.

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